From Michelin-starred hawker food to fine dining, Wayne Liew and Brent Savage share their favourite foodie haunts in Singapore.
Wayne Liew, from cult Singapore Zi Char eatery Keng Eng Kee, met up with Australian chef, Brent Savage to share his passion for food and explore Singapore's diverse dining scene. Here, they share their top tips to eating in the city as well as a special collaboration dish they created together, which reflects the fusion of their styles and experience in Singapore.
Brent Savage has also shared the recipe for a dessert he crafted, which was inspired by traditional Singapore flavours - the Pandan Custard, Kaya Coconut Jam and Lychee Granita.
Brent Savage shares his Singapore dining tips
When you arrive in Singapore, head to Chinatown Complex Food Centre. It’s one of my favourite hawker centres and one of the best places for a traditional Singapore breakfast. It houses the Michelin-starred hawker stall, Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle by Hawker Chan. A simple but delicious recipe. Go early and be prepared for a long queue, but it’s well worth the wait
Next up, head to Corner House where Singaporean head chef Jason Tan has created the perfect setting for a relaxing lunch in Singapore’s Botanic Gardens. The whole menu is created around the concept of ‘gastro-botanica’–a contemporary cuisine that puts equal focus on the proteins and the botanical elements on the plate. You can’t go past their signature dish ‘The Onion Revealed’. There are four different components including onion tea, the baked cup, the tart and the chip–all of which are super delicious and executed perfectly.
Another must-try location is Banana Leaf Apolo in Little India. This restaurant is famous for its specialty dish, the fish head curry, which has been on the menu for over 30 years! The cuisine is authentic Southern Indian, which isn’t seen in Australia often, so you’ll find interesting new dishes and flavours to try.
When it’s time for an afternoon drink and snack, head to Tippling Club. It’s located near Chinatown in Tanjong Pagar and is headed up by founder and head chef, Ryan Clift. Here you will find some of the best cocktails in Singapore and you can even do a cocktail pairing with a tasting menu.
For dinner, I recommend making your way to Cloudstreet. Located on Amoy Street in the heart of the city, the restaurant offers a tasting-only menu. The dishes are super refined and beautifully executed. It’s the perfect way to end your day of exploring Singapore’s food scene.
Wayne Liew’s insider tips to Singapore’s local food scene
Eating is a national pastime in Singapore, and is what connects us as a nation. We pride ourselves on the fact that you can get authentic, local, delicious food 24 hours a day and it’s not even ‘fast’ food!
The first place on your foodie hit-list should be Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck at Chinatown Centre Food Complex. The stall is operated by 2nd generation hawkers who guard their family recipe closely. They are innovative and able to attract the younger generation, while still maintaining their traditional recipe. Recently, they began creating braised duck bento sets which are incredibly popular with the younger crowd.
For another authentic Singaporean meal, head to Hainanese Curry Rice in Beo Crescent Market. Operating for more than 40 years, time truly stands still here! It’s an incredibly nostalgic dining environment, but more importantly, they use the same flavours and dishes since the day they opened. I think it’s the best place in Singapore to enjoy Hainanese cuisine.
Singapore has plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from and one of my favourites is Candlenut. It’s the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant and the dishes are based on preserved family recipes, passed down through generations, and then refined through modern cooking techniques. A must-try is their Wagyu Beef Rendang–a melt-in-your-mouth dish!
Restaurant Labyrinth is another one-Michelin-starred restaurant that I recommend for lunch or dinner. The menu focuses on using local ingredients to recreate and refine Singapore cuisine. When you’ve ticked off all the hawker centres, visit Restaurant Labyrinth to experience first-hand how local cuisine can be taken to another level. Their menu changes regularly but a must-try is their signature Chilli Crab Ice Cream.
Finally, you can’t visit Singapore without popping into Keng Eng Kee, or KEK as it is known to locals. Run by my family for three generations, today my brother Paul and I run it with our father. It’s a no-frills alfresco style of dining with a mix of recipes passed down through the 2nd and 3rd generations, but with innovative twists added. From Black Pepper Crab to Coffee Pork Ribs and Moonlight Horfun Noodles, the hardest part would be choosing what to order!
Steamed Blue Eye Trevalla with Fermented Wood Ear Mushroom, Shiso and Bak Kwa
Following Brent and Wayne’s experiences discovering Singapore together, the chefs developed a collaboration dish that reflects a fusion of their styles. The Steamed Blue Eye Trevalla with Fermented Wood Ear Mushroom, Shiso and Bak Kwa combines Brent’s elegant and refined style with influences of Wayne’s authentic Zi Char cuisine, to create a dish that tells the story of ‘their’ Singapore. The dish is inspired by the Teochew-styled steamed fish, where fermented vegetables and seasoning are used to achieve a broth that is infused with the freshness of the fish and ingredients as a result of steaming. You can find the recipe here.
Pandan Custard, Kaya Coconut Jam and Lychee Granita
Brent’s culinary experiences in the ‘Lion City’ also inspired a dessert with traditional Singaporean flavours, including pandan (an aromatic plant commonly used in local desserts), coconut, seasonal tropical fruits and ice. The dish uses pandan to create a custard, paired with kaya coconut jam (a classic breakfast jam in Singapore), and finished with a lychee granita. You can find the recipe here.